Topical DHEA is a great and powerful way to restore low DHEA levels. It can even increase upstream powerful androgens, such as DHT.
However, too much can become suppressive. Here’s why.
In this study, participants applied 50mg DHEA via a gel for only 5 days. The researchers did multiple follow-up tests up to 5 weeks later to see how their hormones changed with this protocol (R).
First 5 days of topical DHEA use
On the 6th day (they tested 10 hours after the last dose), here’s what happened.
DHEA, DHEA-S and androstenedione increased the most. DHEA is converted to androstenedione by 3β-HSD and then to testosterone by 17β-HSD.
Testosterone and estradiol increased a bit. Interestingly, LH went up.
All good stuff right?
4 weeks after stopping topical DHEA use
After 5 weeks (4 weeks after stopping), here’s what happened.
- DHEA dropped a bit.
- DHEA-S went back to baseline.
- Androstenedione more than doubled.
- Testosterone went up by 50%.
- Estradiol tripled.
- LH halved.
In the short term, 50mg did mostly good things. In the long term, even after stopping, things kept on changing. This shows that these precursor hormones can accumulate in the body, likely by combining with fatty acids, creating DHEA-fatty acid esters.
“Plasma lipoproteins contain at least 90% of circulating DHEA-FA of which 40% are found in the LDL fraction.” (R)
The dramatic increase in androstenedione and testosterone, especially estradiol, caused the drop in LH. Using an aromatase inhibitor will likely prevent most of the decrease in LH, or using a smaller dose, like 10-15mg should also be effective at minimizing the creation of estradiol and therefore, suppression.
I like topical DHEA, since it’s stronger than oral and creates more DHT, which is beneficial.
But too high of a DHEA dose can lead to issues, such as too much estrone and estradiol, shifting the balance too much towards estrogen.
It’s best to do your own testing to see what’s happening to your LH, estrone, estradiol, testosterone and DHT when using a specific dose of topical DHEA and if you need more or less.
My preferred ways to keep estrogen in check are via zinc-rich foods, lots of sunlight, foods rich in fat-soluble vitamins, white button mushrooms and an AI supplement like Mangosteen or Virtus.
Preferred topical DHEA products
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